Undercurrents

A domain by any other name...

We think it's time for Scott Cowan to take stock of his political career and then admit that he was beyond the pale in insisting to us that there was nothing wrong in paying his daughters with campaign donations for work they didn't do.

In October of last year, we confronted him with the fact that he'd paid Courtney and Amanda more than $10,000 for doing nothing at all (see "To the Victor Go the Spoiled Children," by Bob Norman, October 22, 1998).

Cowan said at the time that it "was totally within the legal bounds," and he was quite unapologetic about it.

But now comes a report from the Florida Elections Commission that claims it has probable cause to believe that Cowan wrongly doled out the campaign cash to his offspring and others. The report says that he "willfully" and improperly paid people, and it happened more than 30 times. These alleged infractions could cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

Cowan won't say if he'll fight the allegations or if he is now remorseful. He refers all questions to an attorney in Tallahassee, who didn't return phone calls by press time.

The once-powerful leader of the commission has obviously slipped down the political ladder of late, and this could be the final push. Time for full mea culpa.


We were surfing the Web the other day and stumbled upon www.theherald.com in a misguided attempt to catch up on the local daily. What we got instead was a message from www.websitenames.com: "The domain name theherald.com is available for sale/transfer to you or your company," it states. No thanks.

Could The Miami Herald be held hostage by Net entrepreneurs intent on making a buck by snatching up domain names before corporations think to act?

In our circulation area, at least, the Website did snag the name of the paper. In Miami it is The Miami Herald, while in Broward it's The Herald. We noticed that the paper's Website, which is listed on every page of the paper, is www.herald.com. Where's the The?

David Crane, one of the proprietors of websitenames.com, says the company is in the business of securing generic Website names (as opposed to trademarked names, such as www.mcdonalds.com). According to Crane, the company has successfully hawked such names as onlineinvestor.com, nutritionist.com, and maternityclothes.com. The top selling price for one of those has been $75,000.

Crane says he's contacted The Miami Herald, as well as other "herald" papers, such as the one in Boston. No deal has been reached, however, with those publications. Perhaps the asking price has something to do with it: $80,000. "It's probably gonna go up to $100,000," Crane says.

His marketing strategy has a flaw. The people who run new media at The Heralddon't want that name. "We never had any interest in it," says Rich Gordon. "It's really junior-league distortion, and if we thought there was confusion, we might take legal action, but that's not the case."

But Crane claims that the heralds -- Miami or otherwise -- don't have a chance in a lawsuit, because the name is so common that it can't be trademarked. But he's ready for action just in case. "We have a motherfucker of an attorney that's on call now," he boasts. "He's just a killer."

We're sure The Herald is terrified. Got a tip? Call 954-233-1581, fax 954-233-1571, or e-mail undercurrents@newtimesbpb.com.

 
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